A level or GCE A level - reformed Ofqual accredited (First awarded 2017)

First teaching 2015
First AS award 2016
First A level award 2017

This QIP refers to the reformed Ofqual accredited A level from first teaching 2015.

Countries
  • England
  • Northern Ireland (due to the qualification open market arrangement.)
  • Wales (where there is no specification designed to meet new Welsh Government requirements.)
Purpose

The purpose of the reformed Ofqual accredited A level, as set out in Ofqual’s Conditions of Recognition for GCE qualifications is as follows:

  • define and assess achievement of the knowledge, skills and understanding which will be needed by students planning to progress to undergraduate study at a UK higher education establishment, particularly (although not only) in the same subject area; 
  • set out a robust and internationally comparable post-16 academic course of study to develop that knowledge, skills and understanding;
  • permit UK universities to accurately identify the level of attainment of students;provide a basis for school and college accountability measures at age 18; and
  • provide a benchmark of academic ability for employers.
Education context

AS and A levels are the qualifications that the majority of young people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland use to gain entry to university.

The reformed Ofqual accredited AS and A levels will be available in some subjects in England and Northern Ireland (where the open qualifications market operates) from September 2015, with first A level exams being sat in 2017.

The introduction of reformed Ofqual accredited AS and A levels will be phased. A list of the subjects being reformed for first teaching from September 2015, see subject areas list below.

The following types of AS and A levels will be available for use in schools in England from September 2015:

  • All current AS and A levels offered by AQA, OCR, Pearson and WJEC in unreformed subjects.
  • Reformed AS and A levels for first teaching September 2015, accredited by Ofqual, and offered by AQA, OCR, Pearson and Eduqas.
  • As part of CCEA's withdrawal plan there is still a resist opportunity in England, and a cash-in opportunity possibly into summer 2016.

Note that learners in Wales will be able to undertake Ofqual accredited A level qualifications in subjects where there is no specification designed to meet new Welsh Government requirements.

Awarding organisations
  • AQA
  • Eduqas
  • OCR
  • Pearson Education Ltd
Structure

Reformed Ofqual accredited A levels are linear in their structure and are designed to be delivered over two-years with terminal exams and, in some cases, non-exam assessment.

The reformed Ofqual accredited AS, which can be co-taught alongside the A level, will no longer contribute towards the final A level grade. For further information please see the QIP for the AS – reformed Ofqual accredited.

Subject areas
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • English language
  • English literature
  • English literature and language
  • Art and design
  • Business
  • Computer science
  • Economics
  • History
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
Levels
  • Level 3

Whilst both the AS and A level are Level 3 qualifications, assessment within the AS is regarded as less demanding than that of the A level.

Grading

A*- E

From 2015, revised Ofqual accredited science A levels (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) will include a separate result for the practical element of the qualification. This separate grade will be pass/fail.

Assessment

Reformed Ofqual accredited A levels will be linear in their structure, with all assessment at the end of the qualification.

Learners will sit a terminal examination, and, in some cases, undertake non-exam assessment.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

In England and in other countries where Ofqual accredited A levels operate, the Uniform Mark Scale (UMS) process is being phased out and Ofqual will confirm new awarding arrangements in 2015.

The contribution of external assessment to the total award is determined at subject level. For example, in history, 80% of those marks are made available through assessments by examination; whereas, in art and design, 100% of those marks are made available through assessments by non-examination.

The reformed Ofqual accredited AS qualification is standalone and does not contribute to the final grade.

Grade boundaries for the A level are defined in relation to the total available UMS points to help ensure consistent understanding of requirements over time.

  • A* at A level requires at least 80% of available UMS for all units, including at least 90% of available UMS in A2 units
  • A at A level requires 80% of available UMS
  • B at A level requires 70% of available UMS
  • C at A level requires 60% of available UMS
  • D at A level requires 50% of available UMS
  • E at A level requires 40% of available UMS
  • U at A level if less than 40% of available UMS
Resit arrangements

Resit arrangements are to be confirmed.

Guided / notional learning hours
360 hours
UCAS Tariff points

A level

Grade Points
A* 56
A 48
B 40
C 32
D 24
E 16
Key issues for UK HE admissions

Whilst both the AS and A level are Level 3 qualifications, assessment within the AS is regarded as less demanding than that of the A level.

The 2017 and 2018 admissions cycle will see large numbers of applicants applying to HE with a mixture of new and current AS and A levels due to the staggered reform timetable.

AS and A levels accredited in England, Northern Ireland and Wales will differ in terms of structure, content and assessment arrangements. Grading will remain the same.

Not all applicants will choose to study AS qualifications.

Ofqual accredited Science A levels will contain two grades. Any university that requires a practical grade should make this clear in their entry requirements.

Timing of assessments and results

Reformed Ofqual accredited A levels will continue to be taken in May/June and results will continue to be made available mid-August.

Qualification date
Starting from 01 Sep 2015
Reporting of results and certification information

Grade distributions by subject and total entries by subject are published by the Joint Council for Qualifications:

www.jcq.org.uk

Further information

Link to rules, regulations and guidance for the reformed A levels and AS qualifications (taught from September 2015) published by Ofqual:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/new-a-level-and-as-level-qual…

Links to awarding organisation websites and specifications:

www.aqa.org.uk

www.ocr.org.uk

www.edexcel.com

www.eduqas.co.uk